New York power outage attributed to manhole fire, says mayor

But a Reuters alert soon after stated that, "New York utility says it has not determined cause of Manhattan power outage."

July 14, 2019 05:46
3 minute read.
Shoppers in Columbus Circle Whole Foods during a blackout due to widespread power outages in the Man

Shoppers in Columbus Circle Whole Foods during a blackout due to widespread power outages in the Manhattan borough of New York City. (photo credit: MONTSE PEREZ)


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A major power outage struck midtown Manhattan and part of the Upper West Side of the New York City borough on Saturday evening. According to a tweet by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the power outage was attributed to a manhole fire earlier in the evening.

"This was a mechanical issue," de Blasio said from the campaign trail. "NYPD & FDNY are currently responding to people with the most urgent needs."

But a Reuters alert soon after stated that, "New York utility says it has not determined cause of Manhattan power outage."

The outage affected businesses and subway lines and stations in the area, with 42,000 people and places without power, according to a report by Con Edison on the company's Twitter profile. The affected area stretched from 40th street to Columbus Circle, according to NBC 4 New York.

New Yorkers shared photos of the darkened city on Twitter and Facebook.

At the Columbus Circle subway station police directed passengers to leave the station due to the power outages. And police asked cars to avoid major thoroughfares. 

"Due to the power outage and disabled traffic control devices, vehicles should avoid W 42 st - W 74 st, 5th Ave - 12th Ave," the New York Police Department tweeted. "Only @Mta buses will be permitted in the area."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also took to Twitter, letting New Yorkers know that, "We are working with Con Edison to determine the root cause of the ongoing power failure, which is affecting Midtown and the Upper West Side," tweeted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "Several stations are currently without power and are being bypassed by all trains. Please stay tuned here for updates."

Large parts of Rockefeller Center were without power. Further, only three Broadway theaters could remain open: Winter Garden Theater, Nederlander Theater, and Lyceum Theatre

NBC News retweeted a photo of a darkened studio at Rockefeller Center broadcasting NBC Nightly News on backup generators.

At some intersections where traffic lights went out, civilians took charge and began directing traffic, according to a tweet by NBC News.

By 10 p.m., Con Edison announced that power was being restored to the Upper West Side and that most customers should have their power restored by midnight.

The New York City mayor said that he was not yet sure if he would return the New York from the campaign trail in Iowa due to the outage, according to a report by Politico.

"I’m going to get more information in the next hour or so, and we’ll adjust my schedule accordingly depending on what I hear," said de Blasio.

The power outages marked 42 years to the day since a massive electricity blackout affected most of New York City on July 13-14, 1977.

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